Newsjacking: On the hunt for users with Pokémon GO & co.

News Bullhorn

September 6, 2016

The flood of content shows no sign of letting up and good advice, tips and tricks can be found everywhere. The competition for every single click is going through the roof. By focussing on a single general topic, it’s possible to attract substantially more attention and views. This is where newsjacking comes in – a strategy which is perfect for the current Pokémon GO trend.

Newsjacking is all about current trends – the clue is in the name. Newsjacking involves taking news content out of its original editorial context and presenting it a new environment. In other words, hijacking it! It might sound complicated but it really couldn’t be simpler.

The internet is full of examples of how businesses have newsjacked the current Pokémon GO trend – Nintendo’s first smartphone game was an instant hit and a gold mine for clever newsjackers.

Check out this tweet from the NYPD for example, warning people not to play Pokémon GO whilst driving!

Pokemon Go Policia

Elsewhere, a dog’s home is trying to kill two birds with one stone by finding a home for one its dogs in the form of Pokémon hunters! The review website Yelp has gone a step further by offering a new feature on its app – users can now include in their review whether a restaurant is situated near a Pokéstop.
Newsjacking isn’t limited to single social media posts either; blogs on how to make the most of the new trend have sprung up in every industry:

  • “How to use Pokémon GO in your marketing”
  • “Boost conversion rates with Pokémon GO”
  • “Why insurance is so important when playing Pokémon GO”
  • “5 top outfits for playing Pokémon GO”
  • “…”

Even this article is getting involved by using Pokémon GO examples!

How does newsjacking work?

Newsjacking is media-based free-riding, with businesses hitching a ride on a topic which is currently trending and spreading across the internet and beyond. This could be anything from hashtags and memes to current events which are attracting a lot of attention. The news item is imposed over your corporate identity in a suitable content form, enabling your own content to profit from attention generated by the current news topic, thus boosting reach.
Popular newsjacking content formats include, but are not limited to:

  • Blog articles
  • Checklists
  • Picture montages
  • Infographics
  • White papers

The keys to newsjacking success

Simple, easy and attention-grabbing – these are the keys to successful newsjacking. It doesn’t have to graphically mind-blowing or hyper-professional, there just needs to be that little spark that links the news item to your corporate content. A good example of this has become the mother of all newsjacks:

During the 2013 Superbowl, there was a power cut. Cookie company Oreo were quick to jump on the opportunity and within minutes had put out the following tweet:

Oreo Cookie power out

The joke was an instant hit, guaranteeing Oreo huge reach and becoming the benchmark for classic real-time marketing. Which leads us to the next key factor for successful newsjacking …

Ride the wave – it’s all about timing!

Just as with surfing, newsjacking is all about jumping on the right wave at the right time – before it fades away. Get this right and your content will get a boost and continue to ride the wave. It’s important to react as quickly as possible to breaking news presented as memes and hashtags. So if you see a newsjacking opportunity on the way into work one morning, cancel all meetings and phone calls and implement your newsjack as soon as possible!

Other events in the worlds of sport and culture can be planned for well in advance, so make sure you time your content to launch just before the news event reaches its climax – this guarantees maximum exposure.

Newsjacking no-gos and other fails

Newsjacking can achieve huge exposure and reach but it’s not without risk! The biggest danger is selecting the wrong topic. Political debate for example is generally considered a newsjacking no-go for classic businesses (although campaign groups and NGOs can benefit). Newsjacking should be fun for the user so it’s best to avoid topics which have negative connotations.

Dutch airline KLM made a classic error during the 2014 football world cup. After the Dutch team had knocked out Mexico, the airline tweeted a celebratory message reading “Adios Amigos!” combined with a photo of a departure gate. The Dutch fans found it hilarious – but reactions elsewhere were more mixed. The Dutch schadenfreude was seen as unsporting and uncalled for at such a prestigious tournament, not to mention the negative connotations associated with referring to Mexicans with the term “amigos” in this context …

Meanwhile, Mexican airline Aeroméxico made the most of the KLM fail with a great newsjack of their own. Mimicking the style of KLM’s tweet, the Mexicans posted an image of an arrivals gate along with the following message for their defeated team: “We’re proud of you – thank you for a great tournament. We’re waiting for you at arrivals!”

Aeromexico Viva Mexico

Author Barbara Ward

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